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Thread: Challenge V : How to critique

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Challenge V : How to critique

    Now comes an interesting challenge for those New To Photography.

    It is great to learn new skills from the challenges here and improve your photography. Along with the challenges, other members also contribute by giving you constructive criticism (CC) of your photos to help you improve. To contribute on Ausphotography, you also need to learn how to give constructive criticism to other members. So this challenge doesn’t require you to go out and take photos, but rather look at a particular photo and give some constructive criticism about it.

    I don’t want to see comments like “I like it, great photo, wow, that’s great…etc”. I want to see well thought out responses. There is a guide below, which might help you along your way.

    Now to be fair, this photo is one of mine, I have a thick skin and won’t take offense to anything a New To Photography participant says about it. Just take some time look at the photo, use the guide to help you. Remember you do not have to agree with what others have said, Say what YOU think.

    I look forward to seeing your responses.





    The concept
    * A photo is presented for a full on critique.
    * Members are invited to critique the photo in full, and also learn from others critiques, and apply what they learn to critiquing other member photos on Ausphotography.

    Critique - how to guide

    Things to consider
    * Subject
    * Composition
    * Emotive response/connection
    * Visual impact
    * Lighting
    * Posing (when applicable)
    * Technical details (exposure, colour balance, contrast)
    * Treatment (mono conversion, sharpening, dust spot removal etc)

    Critique the composition/subject choice

    Is the main subject in the centre of the frame? Is it on a third? Somewhere else? Does the chosen composition work, or would you have done something differently? Look at the composition or content in the photograph. What is the centre of interest in the picture? Where did the photographer place it in the frame? Did the photographer get close enough to the subject to include only what is important, or are there wasted parts of the picture with elements that do not add to the message of the photo? Would the photo have been improved if the photographer had taken it after changing location (ie moved 2 steps to the left) Is the main subject in focus? Is it sharp focus, or a "soft" focus? Is the focus appropriate for the situation?

    Emotional Impact
    How does the photo connect with you on an emotional level? Does it remind you of happy times, sad times, traumatic experiences, a sense of excitement or acheivement? Why does it invoke these emotions? Do experiences from your past influence how you perceive the photo? Maybe the subject is your favourite sporting star, or a tropical island reminiscent of your honeymoon or a much remembered holiday. All these things impact the way you see the photo you are critiquing. Comment on this, cause your emotive connection will be different to the next person's.

    Fore, Middle, and Backgrounds.
    Does the photo contain all three? If not, do you think it would be better if it did? Next, observe the areas outside the main subject in the photograph. How did the photographer represent these areas in regards to focus and depth of field? Is the DOF shallow or deep? Does the DOF work in this shot, or should more (or less) of the photo be in focus? How do these areas of the photograph add or distract from the message of the photo? If there is an horizon, is it straight and level?

    Cropping/Framing.
    Is there wasted empty space is the photo? Should the crop have been tighter? Is it cropped so tightly that important parts of the photo have been cut off?

    Colour / Tonal Range.
    What type of colours do you see? Did the photographer use a lot of primary colours? Secondary? Complementary? Are the colours too vivid? Not vivid enough? Is the light soft or harsh? Does the type of lighting enhance or detract from the things in the photo? Is the white balance set correctly? Is there a yellowish, orangish, blueish or greenish cast to the photo?If you are looking at a B&W photo, is there a true black, true white, with a large tonal range in between, or is the photo too "gray"?

    Leading lines.
    Do the lines and overall composition make you want to look deeper into the photo? Is your eye drawn into the photo, or out of it?

    Balance.
    Is the photo "balanced"? Would it be better if there were other objects or other light/dark areas in the frame to improve the balance? If the photo is off balance, is there a reason for it?

    Exposure.
    Is any area overexposed or underexposed? If so, can you say why you think that happened? How could the photographer prevent this problem in the future?

    Finally, offer your own personal feelings on the photograph. What do you like about the selected subject? Is it an emotional shot, a story, a statement, a humorous photo? What would you do differently if you had the chance to take the same photograph?

    Examples
    You could just say "Great photo", but why not add that bit more "Great photo, I really like the colours of the sunset, the clouds grab my attention"

    'I like this", why not add "I like this cause its not an insect I have seen so close before, I didn't realise they had incandescent wings"

    Summary
    Constructive critiquing is a learned skill, start off easily, and just add a sentence to your comment. Do not try and write whole paragraphs to start with. Read others critiques, look at the points they raise and look at the photo. Learn from what you read. Not only will the skill of critiquing well, help the photographers you critique, but it will help your own photography as you take on board what you learn reading others critiques.
    "It is one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it is another thing to make a portrait of who they are" - Paul Caponigro

    Constructive Critique of my photographs is always appreciated
    Nikon, etc!

    RICK
    My Photography

  2. #2
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    Hi Rick I like the photo..here is my first attempt at giving a more thoughtful and decent critique...


    It is showing the 2 labs walking along the trail, I think the front dog could be in focus so we see more of the expression and details in the face.

    The composition seems fine to me with dogs on trail and dof sufficient to make the dogs the main subject matter.

    I am a dog lover however I do not get a big impact other than a couple dogs walking along with their owner enjoying a walk.

    Lighting and exposure are pretty good, I think it could be a little sharper although you were walking along in a darkened forest area and you would have likely been hand holding for this shot and having a longer exposure to compensate for the light.

    Dan

    I have tried to use the guideline, it is still not an easy process Hope this is the type of thing you were looking for and look forward to having my critique, critiqued.

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    Ausphotography Veteran yummymummy's Avatar
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    This could be a great photo if the dogs were in focus more. The focus, in my view is on the ferns and the ground below the dogs. colours look good though, so maybe a faster shutter speed(?)or the use of a tripod might help, to capture them as if they were frozen in time. It would be nice to see the expression on the old dog in front's face.
    Happy to take all constructive Critique, please don't rework or edit my photos. Thanks!

    Canon 6D, 2 Canon 50D's gripped, Canon 1000D, Canon 70-200 F2.8 ( non IS),Canon 70-200 2.8, Canon 24-70 2.8, Sigma 85 1.4, Canon 50mm F1.8.. yongnuo speedlights and triggers, and manfrotto tripods.


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    Great work Dan and Kirsty. Keep an eye on this thread and look at what others say. I hope you find you can use this guide to start improving your comments on other members photos.

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    Ausphotography Veteran yummymummy's Avatar
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    thanks Rick, it's a great thread, as are the rest of them in the New to Photography section, I find myself just losing myself in there lately trying to better my photos Thanks for a wonderful site!!

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    Mmh! My attempt!
    I like the composition and the feeling of movement of the dogs running towards the camera. I believe the dogs are the point of focus so think they should both be in focus rather than the ferns surrounding them. I also wonder if the dogs aren't a little over exposed? Have to say though, that I don't think I would have achieved any better under the circumstances!
    Laurie

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    I prefer to see some EXIF info & though it's not essential for a full critique I do prefer it posted or intact. Your use of vignetting is quite appealing.

    The image is sharp enough. Though an acceptable DOF was implemented, the key focal point appears to be between the two animals rather than using it to empower a key subject. #1 Lab is not only OoF, but shows unacceptable movement (particularly in the head).

    There is some interesting use of foreground [OOF ferns on the bottom right], surroundings are inviting. A portrait crop with attention to the Rule of Thirds (or other compsositional standard) might show off the leading line of the path way and enhance the key subjects some.

    What to do next time?: Focus on lead dogs face, perhaps at a lower angle. Compose the shot through the view finder to detail points of interest and buy a Canon.
    "Nature photography is about choosing a location, crawling through dirt, being bitten by insects and occasionally taking a great image". - Wayne Eddy.

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    Hmmm being a doglover i would like for the dogs to be a bit sharper and i would crop a bit around the sides and a bit at the rear, i think the exposure is as good as it could be in those surroundings.

    The dogs following the track in the center of the pic works good for me. But i think if leading dog and foreground were a bit more focused, it would look like they were going somewhere, and that they were clear of where they were going.

    I like the background part of the trail blurred, it sort of says this ground has been covered.
    Julie

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    thanks guys. I thought someone would comment on the front dog's tail partially obscuring the second dogs face.

    Good to see you having a go at this, as its the best way to learn, by practising on a photo. I might do another challenge like this in the next week or two.

    Looking forward to more critique on this one.

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    I thought someone would comment on the front dog's tail partially obscuring the second dogs face.
    I noticed that but my dogs are always getting a mouthfull of hair from another dogs wagging tail if they are standing behind, i seen that as normal doggie behaviour and something one would/could expect to see in a doggie pic...

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    Great thread Rick......I don't think anyone learns from comments like great photo, nice shot or very cute...but I'm guilty of often doing that myself. Everyone can learn from CC of their images, from what people say about others images, and from having to sit down and actually think a photo through as you are encouraging in this thread and in the forum in general. Great work and am really enjoying the whole site!

    Here's mine

    I like the fact that the lighting(and vignette) in the image immediately focus your attention in on the dogs.....although unfortunately the main subject...the lead dog is unfocused. Pretty difficult to get things in focus when they are moving towards you quickly.

    The image is generally well exposed although with the vignette I find the bottom corners a bit too dark as they lack any detail (may just be my monitor!). The saturation could be tweaked just a little and the whole image could do with a good sharpen....although this unfortunately wont fix the dog!

    I know it's completely natural and was there in the scene, but I find the small brown leaf sitting in the ferns (across to the left and up from the second dog) a bit annoying, and would just clone it out

    Not sure if you also tried it in portrait format...I think it may have worked better.....at the moment it's all a bit too central.....central dogs...central vertical line of the track. Perhaps stepping off the track a couple of paces so that the path cut a kind of diagonal down through the image with say the dogs in the top third of the image in the corner. I think protrait format would have also given the image more of a "sense of place" ... showing more of the forest.

    Anyhow just my thoughts on the image.

    Look like a nice couple of mates to go walking with...although I bet they dont share your patience when it comes to image taking!

    cheers
    Greg

    Please feel free to rework any of my images on this forum.

    I also welcome any constructive criticism or suggestions.

    http://www.gregwallis.com

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    Fantastic thread Rick as I'm not always sure how to make constructive criticism.
    First to raise hand and say I'm guilty for just saying nice shot, I like it etc.

    Ok my view,

    I really like the photos except the dog in the front his/her face could have been more in focus so that his/her face was clearer. May be try not to have dog 1's tail obscuring dog 2's face. You could try to crop image a little as my eye wanders down to the lower left hand side in the darker bit.
    But all in all a lovely photo of 2 dogs having a lovely time running through the bush with lots of different smells to intrigue them.
    Cheers Debra
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    Whilst not particularly new to photography I still have a lot of concern / trouble with CC
    So I will have a go.

    Rick,
    Good attempt, the colour in this photo looks quite good
    Although drawing the eye to the dogs, for me, the vignett is too much.
    Unfortunaely the main subjects are both out of focus
    With the angle you have used here I think that if you had focused on the second dog this shot may have worked.
    As with children I prefer to see these types of photos taken from eye level (or very close to it) with the subject, this adds a different perspective. Everybody always sees our pets from up high.
    The shallow depth of field, the dark vignett, and no sharp focus point all lead to this particular photo lacking any interesting detail.
    As i said you have got good colour, so you are well on the way.
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    Cheers, Mark


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    Thanks Guys, Mark, I did the vignette a bit strong on purpose (along with a few other edits to to the photo)- good to see someone agrees with me. The central position of the dogs was also done via cropping, to give members things to give great feedback and suggestions on.

    I might post another of these in the next few days, to get members into the swing of critiquing and understanding what others look at, and comment on.

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    Well I too find very hard to just to express my thought's on a photo. I find it harder enough with my own.

    First thing I noticed about the photo, was the dog's out of focus / blured motion of the dog's coming toward's the camera. I think using a faster shutter speed with continuous shooting would have produced a better resault here.

    Though being in a wet forest from the look's of the photo, I'd say the lighting prob wasn't that great for a faster shutter speed to be used. In saying that maybe applying a higher ISO also would of over come this.

    As some other people have said, the tail of the dog in front is distracting the dog behind her/him. This is most probably alway's going to happing with 2 dog's running straight toward's you in a straight line. For this you could try stepping out abit more to the left or the right to over come the wagging tail of the dog in front.

    Ok how's that rick?
    Photographer & Retoucher at L'Obsession Secrète

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    good work,

    for some background info. Shot with My D3 and a 150mm macro lens. I had been out shooting fungi. On the walk back my dogs ran off and I grabbed them on the way back, but this was a grab shot, on auto, so the blur was created by movement in the low light.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ricktas View Post
    Thanks Guys, Mark, I did the vignette a bit strong on purpose (along with a few other edits to to the photo)- good to see someone agrees with me. The central position of the dogs was also done via cropping, to give members things to give great feedback and suggestions on.
    I pretty much figured that Rick, being that this photo is so far from your usual standard, but I really wanted to have a go at this.
    There were a few other things I was going to mention, the centre composition etc, but figured that a CC that lists a few things would be more encouraging than listing everything that I thought was wrong.

    We need to remember that in attempting to encourage that we don't discourage peolple by highlighting every little nit pic.

    This is a very good excercise

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    Well here goes Rick:

    Firstly I personally would have tried to capture the dogs further back along the path to give a greater sense of where the dogs are heading and I would have stood more to the left so that I could angle the camera more to capture the second dogs face rather than having the front dogs tail obscuring it. The front dog's face appears to be OOF slightly resulting in a lack of detail in the dog's expression which to me would convey more atmosphere in the photo.
    I really like the lighting and the vignette - to me it gives a sense that the dogs are heading into a more dense area of undergrowth.
    Colour is ok but I feel that some of the highlights have blown out a little and there could be a little more contrast to make the picture "pop" out at you.
    Overall, I like the concept. It conveys to me that the dogs are out for an "adventure".
    Good try.....keep up the good work.
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    Well, here's my go at critiquing

    I was actually going to mention about the front dogs tail being in the way. But with dogs, you can't control their tails LOL
    I wonder if it needed to be cropped in a little tighter (maybe portrait?), with not so much in the way of ferns to distract from the main focus.. the dogs. The front dog is OOF and maybe needed a faster shutter speed to prevent the blur of the tails moving?

    I probably bombed at this, but I gave it a go LOL

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    Cathi, no such thing as bombing at it, its YOUR opinion and views. Good comments!

    Hope everyone who has posted here, feels they could go into the members photos area and do the same thing on a members photo.

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